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Friday, December 13, 2013

Vines Are Like Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree

For the first time Rich and I have gotten out in the fields before the new year has started, to prep the vines for 2014. There still is some major catching up to do, projects that were put on the back burner while we hurried ourselves through the harvest season. Rich is weedwacking 7 acres of weeds that ran amuck last Fall. I have started to prune the vines; this will be the first pruning of two that will need to be done before bud break next year. After Rich completes his assignment we will spray under the wires to kill off any winter weeds (trust me, there are plenty) and put down a pre-emergent to prevent new growth. We hope this year we can keep ahead of the weed problem using herbicides alone......we'll see I guess.

As you squint your eyes looking at the above picture, you can see vertical canes that are a good 8" to 10" above the cordon (the horizontal arms). We keep them long to prevent winter born viruses from getting down to the budding region; they will be shortened when we do our 2nd pruning. It is during this second pruning when we do our bud count; we want 2 buds per cane and we are trying to have 6 canes on each side of the trunk. This provides 24 opportunities for shoot growth on each vine, all growing upwards vertically to fill out the trellis.

Winter in Virginia is a strange combination of some really pleasant weather with days in the 50's to what seems to be a series of cold snaps where the temperature never gets above 30. Compared to Syracuse or New England this must seem quite balmy, but when you have to be in the fields working with your bare hands as you prune and tie up vines, it can be numbing on the fingers. Though there are periods when we think we have caught up on our work and our projects work their way in doors (i.e. an unheated barn), taking care of vines is a year round job.

Somehow we also have to find time to put up new fencing for the cattle. T29's calf likes to squeeze through the barbed wire and walk the backside of the fence. Why, I don't know other than wanting to relive the experience it had with being born in the "outside world".

There is a winery to be built in 2014 too.

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